Thursday, March 31, 2011

Princess of the Midnight Ball :: A Book Review

Is it already Thursday? I swear time is speeding up. SWEAR! Anyhow, Thursday means a book review. And if you want to know what books other writers LOVE, you have to check out the links below! My fellow Bookanistas will only review books that they can gush about.

Last week I read Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball.

Rose is one of twelve princesses forced to dance through the night in an underground palace. The key to breaking the spell lies in magic knitting needles, an invisibility cloak, and—of course—true love. Inspired by "The Twelve Dancing Princesses,"this novel is as captivating as it is fresh." -From Amazon

What I liked about this book: Seriously? You really want to know? The knitting! Or, more importantly, Galen, the guy who does the knitting. Have you ever thought of knitting as sexy? Well, IT IS! Read the book and you'll see what I mean.

What I Liked About the Characters: Galen. Yes, the knitter again. He's also a rugged soldier with an awesome work ethic (I must be getting old if I think a guy's work ethic makes him attractive) and cheerful disposition.

I like the princesses, too. They're all named after flowers. And they're all unique.

The Other Thing I Liked: Jessica Day George can really write! She's got a talent for weaving words into mental images. Things feel real in her writing, sincere, and true.

So if you need a captivating, beautiful book that will hold your attention from the beginning to the end, check this one out!

In other news, Check out Jessi Kirby's blog for an awesome giveaway!

As for the funky spacing on the links below, all I can say is: Sometimes I hate you! (All right, hate might be a bit strong, but I think you know what I mean.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Keturah and Lord Death :: A Book Review

So, it is Bookanista Thursday again, which means my fellow writers and I are reviewing books that we LOVE. (For a list of Bookanista author bios, click here.) That's right. If one of us is reviewing something, it means we Lurrrrrrrrrve it. So today I am thrilled to rave about Martine Leavitt's book Keturah and Lord Death.

The one thing I have to ask, though, is: WHY ISN'T EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK??? IT IS AMAZING!

Lost and hungry after following a stately hart through the forest, Keturah encounters Lord Death, who is ready to take her. Keturah spins a story that she leaves unfinished and extracts from Lord Death a promise that if she finds her true love in a day, she can go free. But Lord Death is falling in love with her, and as the villagers begin to sense her alliance with this horrifying figure, her life twists and turns on itself. -Exerpt from Amazon

What I liked about this book: Martine Leavitt is an incredible writer! She is a pacing and setting genius. Not once was I bored with her prose, and not once was I bored reading about the small-village setting of this book, or the many memorable characters. Pure Genius!

What I liked about the main character: Keturah is a smart, selfless sixteen-year-old. She outwits death (and more than once), she puts her friends happiness before her own, and she takes the initiative to solve her own problems.

What I liked about death: He is utterly untouchable . . . at first. But even death has his weaknesses. Like falling in love with Keturah. And letting his love for her give up his death-hold on others.

The other thing I liked: The ending! It was a dose of perfection that left me utterly satisfied. I closed this book and went to sleep with a smile on my face. No cliff hangers, no to-be-continued, just perfect satisfaction.

Now, if you want to know what these other writers fell in love with enough to blog about, click on a link below.

Elana Johnson reveals the cover of The Eleventh Plague
LiLa Roecker wonders What Happened to Goodbye
Christine Fonseca wants to be Like Mandarin
Jamie Harrington falls for Falling Under
Shelli Johannes-Wells visits Dark and Hollow Places
Beth Revis discovers Lost and Found
Carolina Valdez Miller is wild about Wither
Megan Miranda swoons for Anna and the French Kiss

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Write-Hope Auction

The kids affected by Japan's earthquake and tsunami are in dire need of help. An organization called Save the Children is trying to help. So is Write-Hope. They're banding together with some amazing literary professionals to try and raise some money.

So, the peeps over at Write-Hope are auctioning off a whole lot of juicy awesomeness . . . like:

A 30-minute Skype chat with the incomparable Meredith Barnes, professional godsend at Fineprint Lit.

From YA author Robin Bridges: a critique of your first chapter (or first 20 pages) and a Amazon or B&N gift card (winner's choice) for $30.

From YA author, mad scientist, and prom chaperone Carrie Harris: a pre-order of Bad Taste in Boys and a 20-page critique of a YA/MG manuscript.

And that's just to name a few. There are all sorts of goodies! So go check it out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Fair Godmother :: A Bookanista Review

I have sung Janette Rallison's praises before. She's one of my favorite authors! (Someone PLEASE make one of her novels into a movie!) When I lay in bed reading her books well into the night, I laugh furiously, face pressed into my pillow, and pray I don't disturb my husband. That's how good her books are.

So today I am thrilled to be reviewing MY FAIR GODMOTHER.

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.

What I liked about this book: Absolutely everything--but mostly the humor. Rallison takes ordinary, swoon-worthy fairy tales and points out their major, drastic flaws in a way that will have you laughing and crying until the very end of the book.

What I liked about the main character: At first you don't like Savannah. She's gorgeous, everyone loves her, life's perfect, and she takes it all for granted. Until her boyfriend dumps her in favor of her older, smarter, more organized sister. And then Savannah realizes she's got a lot of growing up to do and you can't help but love her.

The Romance: As always, Rallison builds this up to frustrating proportions before giving any type of relief. The romance is smoking.

The other thing I liked: Well, there are too many other things that I liked to pick just one. First of all, the mysterious Black Knight was absolutely yummy, even if we couldn't see his face. And the other love interest, the boy Savannah goes back to the dark ages to save? Even yummier. And then there's the little curse Savannah has--if she tells a lie, an amphibian grows in her mouth, but she's put in predicaments where the truth can't be told, so she's spitting out a lot of amphibians.

All in all, this is a book that will be on my all-time favorites list.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Write Hope :: For Japan's Children

So, you all know of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that have hit Japan. And yet, our lives seem to go on uninterrupted, unchanged, unimpacted, while millions of Japanese are suffering, and thousands have already died.

Well, thanks to fellow writer Medeia Sharif, I was informed about Write Hope, a blog solely created to help the children of Japan. Here's what they have to say:

Welcome to Write Hope! We're an international group of Kidlit writers with a connection to Japan. Some of us have lived there. Some of us speak the language. Some of us love the culture. Some of us simply think Japan is exotic and mysterious.

We want to do our bit to help. To that end we have formed Write Hope. We're busy preparing everything now and over the next few weeks we plan to auction kidlit books, critiques, and other prizes for donation to the relief fund of our chosen charity Save the Children.

We'd love for you to be in too. Sign up, spread the word. If you have ARC's, books, critiques, swag to spare, pop us a mail. If you're a publishing professional, agent, editor, author, who wants to participate, pop us a mail.

If you want to help, pop us a mail.

Together we can move mountains :-)

So there you have it. A way to help.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What I Wish I Knew When I Started # 7 & 8

# 7

Write from the heart! If you don't love what you are writing, chances are other people won't love it either. So put yourself into your book--your passions, your fears, your experiences. And write something you love.


You've been through a lot of good times and bad times, right? True love, death, financial struggles, perfect days at the lake, world crisis . . . yeah, you've all been through some of that. So you know how it feels, both the good and the bad. Well, use in your writing the emotions you experienced because nothing sounds truer than the truth. I don't mean write what you went through! I mean, write something new for your character, but pull from your vast emotional pool to show us how your character feels!

And for a recap of all the things I wish I knew when I started . . .

#1 Less is more, especially in YA!
#2 The delete button is your friend. Cherish it. Love it! USE IT!
#3 Writing the initial manuscript is only the tip of the iceberg. The real work is the rewriting!
#4 Take criticism and learn to use it! You'll be a better writer for it.
#5 Give your story time to come out. Your amazing brain will improve upon it, like a cheese growing richer over time.
#6 You can change anything in your writing. Remember, there are no limits!

And on another note,

I'm listed on Goodreads!

SHIFTING is currently listed without its amazing cover, but that will be coming in the near future (and it is swoon-worthy). So, if you want to know a bit more about my book, go check out Goodreads for the blurb, and if it sounds like something you might enjoy, mark it as to-read.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Change of Heart::A Bookanista Review

It's Thrusday, which means time for a Bookanista book review. Recently, I had a little gem given to me by my agent, Marlene Stringer--Change of Heart by Shari Maurer.

Talented soccer player Emmi, 16, is enjoying her good friends and a new crush when she is diagnosed with a possibly fatal virus that requires a heart transplant. Soon, she is pulled from school and feels increasingly isolated as she faces an uncertain future. Abe, another teen transplant patient, offers support, and Emmi’s friendship with him begins to complicate her other relationships. Setbacks and successes, love and tragic loss all help Emmi develop new perspectives and appreciation for what matters, heart, body, and soul.

What I liked about this book: It is a gripping, eye-opening story that isn't wrapped up in a pretty little package--It feels authentic, with real side-effects, real emotions and real consequences.

What I liked about the main character: Emmi seems real. She struggles. A lot! You go through a terribly hard time in her life with her, almost as her. You get such an authentic sense of how it would be to live a year in Emmi's shoes, being sixteen with the possibility of death looming in your future.

The other thing I liked: The voice. I could practically hear Emmi speaking this book directly into my head. I laughed with her. Cried with her. Celebrated with her.

One more thing: Shari does a fantastic job of making such a difficult subject teen-appropriate. I highly recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike.

For more Bookanista reviews, check out:

Friday, March 4, 2011

What I Wish I Knew When I Started 5 & 6 and a Recipe

What I Wish I Knew Number Five:

When I started writing, I thought that if I didn't sit down and write every day, and literally force a story onto paper, the creativity would dry up and turn into a useless nothing.


The human brain is amazing. It holds on to things. Not only that, but it actually improves on them over time. I have found if I write new material after my brain has had time to stew over it, add to it, and mature it, the story is better than ever, like a really good, stinky, potent aged cheese.

What I Wish I Knew Number Six:

You can change anything in your writing. ANYTHING! There are no limits.

Need a window in a certain room so your character has an escape rout? Go and write it in.

Need a character to be tougher? Go throw a couple scars on him, add a mention of the street fights he's been in, and give him a black belt in martial arts. Toughen him up!

Need a new ending to your story? Delete the old one and make a new ending! Make it bigger. Better. Make it AWESOME!

Writing has no limits. It has no bars to hold you in, no rules to tap down your creativity. Don't worry about what you are writing when you write it because there's always time to change it.

Now on a side note, I am almost done writing my latest manuscript and it gives me chills--and I'm so excited I have to share this fact. The funny thing is, this manuscript has been 95% done for a long time. I've gone through and edited it twice. The thing that's undone is the ENDING! I still have to write the finale--have been putting it off for months! But guess what? The ending has come knocking. And it's gonna rock. So be patient with your writing sometimes!

As for the recipe, here's chocolate cake you can make in five minutes, one serving at a time. It's appropriately been called love in a mug. So when you need that quick sugar fix, here ya go (but add a dash of salt!). And don't say I never gave you anything!

Also, my dear, sweet Bookanista buddy, Stasia Kehoe, has a cover reveal!!! Go check it out HERE!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Matched::A Bookanista Review

For Cassia, nothing is left to chance--not what she will eat, the job she will have, or the man she will marry. In Matched, the Society Officials have determined optimal outcomes for all aspects of daily life, thereby removing the "burden" of choice. When Cassia's best friend is identified as her ideal marriage Match it confirms her belief that Society knows best, until she plugs in her Match microchip and a different boy’s face flashes on the screen. This improbable mistake sets Cassia on a dangerous path to the unthinkable--rebelling against the predetermined life Society has in store for her. As author Ally Condie’s unique dystopian Society takes chilling measures to maintain the status quo, Matched reminds readers that freedom of choice is precious, and not without sacrifice. (From Amazon)

What I liked about this book: It was written for teens. With teen themes, teen choices, teen angst. It is a book that will make a teenager think without needing any graphic violence or sex or language to to make them see what is right and wrong.

The characters: They are totally normal, almost to the point of mundane, but that is their most endearing quality. You love them because of the every-day circumstances life has put them in. Especially MC guy: he washes dishes every day for his vocation--his hands are always red and chapped--and it makes him so real you can't help but love him.

The romance: It was sweet, simple, and grew from nothing into something really amazing. You felt it from the very beginning and totally understood its motivating power. Sort of like... True Love! I like that.

The other thing: This will sound weird, but not much happens in this really long book (I'm not joking!). But it is good from the beginning to the end! Ally Condie does a great job with the pacing--a great talent indeed.

For other Bookanista reviews, click on the links below!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I Wish I Knew When I Started #3 and #4

The third thing I wish I knew:

Writing the entire, full-length, 300 pg. manuscript isn't even the tip of the iceberg! Go get an ice-pick, hack a little piece from the iceberg, and that's what you've just written. SERIOUSLY! The real work, and there's a LOT of it, is still looming in your manuscript's future!

But don't feel overwhelmed! Every single thing you do to hone your MS, from writing that first word, to seeing it in print, is WORTH the other 95% percent of the work!

The fourth thing I wish I knew:

Take criticism! Even if you don't agree with it! And...

1. Bend it into something you agree with, something that fits your vision of the manuscript (because you're an awesome writer, and that's what writers do! You can work things into your writing like a magician pulling a bunny from his top hat).

2. Count every minute revising as the best practice you could possibly have for your future as a published writer. Because writing isn't really writing. It is rewriting! And perfecting! And streamlining!

3. Don't get offended by criticism, because everyone will have a different vision of your book! And the people who value your friendship will not hold back with an honest opinion. Honesty is priceless.

4. Always stay true to yourself at the same time.

And if you're curious, here are #1 and #2 from previous posts (click on the number if you actually want to read the post. Or, if you're like me--always in a rush-- look below)...

LESS IS MORE (especially in YA).

The delete button is your friend! Cherish it. Love it! USE it!

So there you go! Not that I'm certified to offer wisdom, but a bit of wisdom anyway!